The first reported Trump-deported Filipino from Southern California speaks out about his experience.
Rey Galleon, who has been working and living in the United States for seven years without proper documents, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 17.
During an interview with ABS-CBN, Galleon recounted the day ICE arrested him at his apartment building, just after he dropped off his 9-year-old to school.
Galleon said that when officers allowed him to change clothes, he immediately alerted his wife who was also in America illegally. She managed to escape through the back door together with their other kid.
After he was taken to an ICE Homeland Security Office in Long Beach, California, he was only given two choices: detention or deportation.
By 10 p.m. that day, he found himself at the Los Angeles International Airport, waiting for a flight to the Philippines that he paid for himself. According to ABS-CBN, it was only during that time that he was able to speak to his wife again.
Non-profit organization Pilipino Workers Center said that the outcome would have been different for Galleon if he was informed before the arrest. The PWC, where Galleon is a member, would have “galvanized legal support and community support” to help him with the bond process.
“ICE, if you interact with them, are trying to get you to sign your own voluntary departure. He was asking for legal assistance and they were ignoring that and in the end they gave him false options,” said Aqui Soriano Versoza of PWC.
The group added that ICE will “intentionally intimidate” their targets and never inform them of their rights.
Galleon, who has no criminal record and whose two children are both U.S. citizens, might have had a chance to fight his deportation if was not taken abruptly, said PWC.
A week after his deportation, Galleon’s wife and children followed him home to Zamboanga, Philippines.